News Release

For release: Dec. 6, 2002

Frank Messina, Air Quality Program, Bend, (541) 388-6146 x226
Phil Hodgen, Communications & Outreach, Pendleton (541) 278-4609

Asbestos Warning Posted at Former Burns Air Force Radar Station

DEQ, Public Health Services, EPA, Harney County And Landowner Collaborating to Assess and Address Risks

Citing potential health risks associated with suspected asbestos containing material, The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) posted “Danger Asbestos” and “Keep Out” signs November 7 at the former Burns Air Force Radar Station in southeast Oregon. DEQ strongly discourages trespassing at the site due to the risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a danger to public health and an air contaminant for which there is no known safe level of exposure. Asbestos fibers when inhaled remain in the body for years and are a respiratory hazard proven to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestos.

The one-time Defense Command compound overlooks the cities of Burns and Hines. Power generating and support facilities were constructed on a portion of the more than 40 acres purchased by the Department of Defense in the 1950s. In 1970, the property was designated as excess and slated for sale. Most of the site is currently in disrepair and under private ownership.

Asbestos containing material is defined as any material, including particulate matter that contains more than one-percent asbestos. A recent site inspection by DEQ determined the presence of suspected asbestos containing material consisting of piping insulation in poor condition, broken and burned floor tiles and cement asbestos board siding containing between five and ten percent asbestos.

In cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Public Health Services, Harney County and the private property owner, DEQ is conducting an investigation to assess the risks to public health and the environment and possible removal options.

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